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The last week has been a bit of a struggle for form, with many running well below par. Yesterday saw Red Giant run a cracking race from the front but finished 2nd in the big race at Sedgefield. Master Work never seemed comfortable at Kempton, similar to a lot of the recent horses, where you knew the outcome after a few fences.
I'm taking a chance on chase debutante, DR JANE, trained by Robert Walford. This lightly raced 8yo goes chasing off a basement mark of 74 (should be 67, but has to race out of the handicap), and that could look very low if she follows in the footsteps of her full-brother, Mr Medic. The latter named horse was also useless over hurdles, and was 0/4 before moving onto the bigger obstacles, where he found his feet and became a useful chaser. Mr Medic went from a 93 rated horse to 143 rated horse in the space of 2 years, which saw him win five times in eight races, winning two big prized handicaps along the way, and I'm hoping that his younger sister is better over fences as well.
Robert Walford has taken a slow and careful approach to the new jumps season, and clearly hasn't rushed any of his horses back. He has only had 9 runners (two horses) this season, but that has returned 3 winners and 4 placed efforts, so it's clearly been an approach of placing the horses in the correct races. In the last fortnight he secured his 3rd win of the season, and that has been his only runner, and she won by 8 lengths. Strangely enough, Robert placed Mr Medic, the full-brother to the selection, at this meeting back in 2016 for his first run over fences, and he goes down the same path for Dr Jane, today.
This race isn't full of quality, with the majority of the horses in the race looking exposed and not really in form. Which is why I think the odds on offer for the selection is worth a punt. You'd have to say that Chapati would be the one to beat, he's still unexposed over fences, and has the best recent form.
ROYAUME UNI might be a little short in the market by the time this write-up comes out, but as long as he's above EVS, he is a bet in my eyes.
A mark of 116 could be extremely low for this horse, and now he goes back to hurdling for his second season, there could be plenty of improvement to come. This horse clearly has ability, both on the flat and over obstacles, and I think this season is where we see him land a couple of wins. He contested some good novice races last year, and I think it is quite apparent that he needs good ground to be seen to his best. The run at Kempton where he finished 4th, 8 lengths behind the winner was a cracking run. That was his 3rd ever run over hurdles, after showing nothing from his previous two runs, and he wasn't disgraced in behind horses rated 134, 138 and 124. He was well fancied on that day, which goes to show that the yard must think he is a nice horse. He went off at 50/1 and 22/1 for his first two starts for the yard, but was then backed into 15/8 joint favourite for a bumper race, which he won by 6.5 lengths, and then 8/13F for his first flat start, which he won by 4.25 lengths. After that Kempton run he contested two class 2 hurdles races, where he finished 2nd and 4th.
He made a return to racing a couple of weeks ago on the flat, at Ascot. He ran with credit, and finished 5/9, where it was likely that he needed the run. That race would've been a pipe opener for this hurdles race, and an opener for his jumping season. Plumpton is one of Gary Moore's local tracks, and always likes to have winners here, so it's not a surprise to see this lad start his campaign at this venue.
In reality, this race doesn't look like anything special. I'd imagine that Olly Murphy's new recruit, Laura Bullion, will be one to be wary of, especially if fancied in the market. She makes her first start for Murphy, after being transferred from Noel Meade's yard. She has some decent pieces of form, and gets a 7lb claimer to take the ride. As for the rest, I don't think they'll be on the same level as the selection, who I believe is well-handicapped, and could make a mockery of his current rating.